This month I have been interested in migration. Migration is when animals move around to different places. Some examples of migration are in The Basics of Bird Migration: How, Why, and Where | All About Birds from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. There are lots of new interesting and cool facts in it. It also talks about what triggers migration, and the 4 main types of migration. They are:
- Current residents
These birds don’t migrate, they stay year-round
- Short distance migrants
These birds include grouse and migrate up\down a mountain or other short travels
- Medium distance migrants
These birds migrate longer distances, like from state to state
- Long distance migrants
These birds will migrate loooong distances like from continent to continent or around the globe.
Birds migrate for many different reasons, the main reasons are food, warmth and shelter. Normally, the migration season starts in spring and fall. But sometimes, winter comes early, so birds migrate earlier in the year. Some bird species, such as the American Robin, don’t all migrate to the same destination. Some robins will migrate later in the year to Montana and others will migrate earlier in the year to Alaska.
At MPG Ranch, the UM Bird Ecology Lab (UMBEL) does migration bird banding in the fall. Mama, Papa, Lucy, and I went there in September! The birdbanders that we were with were Trish, Mike, Meegan, and 2 photographers. They catch birds in giant nets they set up called mist nets. We had to wake up at 5:30 AM! It was very cold, dark, and starry when we got there. We waited for Trish and Trish by a large gate at the base of a hill. I was so excited to go bird banding!! In the meantime it got lighter and lighter, we even heard a bull elk bugling! When they got there, they unlocked the gate and we drove up the hill. Once we had driven for a while (it was pretty light by now!) we pulled over in a parking lot and unpacked. After that we walked down a steep hill, then we walked through some bushes, set up some nets along the way and went to a clearing. I sat on a log nearby and watched the banders setup. In the end there were 2 small blue tables, a bird book, banding supplies, and some small, rainbow colored bags to put birds in. We checked on the nets every 30 minutes. There were ten nets, some of them were put in dense, tall bushes. Others were in a small forest, or in the bushes by the giant meadow. That day we caught 5 different species while I was there. They were 1 Hermit Thrush, 3 American Robins, 1 White-crowned Sparrow, 1 Song Sparrow, and 1 Spotted Towhee. The thrush even pooped on my hand! In total we did 6 rounds before we left at 9:30. Realizing that not many 8 year olds have this opportunity I feel so lucky and grateful to go bird banding.
Many birds migrate through Montana, but very few migrate to Montana in the winter. I’m not sure why that is, but I have a few ideas! I think not a lot of birds migrate here because it gets really cold here in the fall and winter. Some examples of birds that migrate to Montana are the Rough-legged Hawks that migrate here for the winter or the hummingbirds that migrate here for the summer.
Interesting migration links and books
- The Evolution of Bird Migration Explains why birds migrate and that migration is not a new adaption
- Mesmerizing Migration Map: Which Species Is Which Shows 118 species migrating across America!
Talks about a long distance migrant, the red knot, and that since their food, horseshoe crab eggs, are fewer because horseshoe crabs are endangered. Paragraph 1 talks about their migration route, how it navigates, and that it has one of the longest migrations in the world!
- I have been reading a book called Ortho’s Guide To Enjoying Birds, and it has a chapter about migration! The chapter talks about observing migration, the evolution of migration, and why birds migrate!
Do you have any birds that migrate? If so, what type of migration does the bird do? Long distance, medium distance, or short distance? I have a lot of birds that migrate around Missoula: the sparrows, warblers, water birds, cranes and swallows.